Investigating learning mechanisms in infancy relies largely on behavioural measures like visual attention, which often fail to predict whether stimuli would be encoded successfully. This study explored EEG activity in the theta frequency band, previously shown to predict successful learning in adults, to directly study infants' cognitive engagement, beyond visual attention. We tested 11-month-old infants (N = 23) and demonstrated that differences in frontal theta-band oscillations, recorded during infants' object exploration, predicted differential subsequent recognition of these objects in a preferential-looking test. Given that theta activity is modulated by motivation to learn in adults, these findings set the ground for future investigation into the drivers of infant learning.
Keywords: infants; learning; motivation; theta oscillations.